It's always wonderful to witness the talents of home-grown creators. 'Penguin Bloom' tells a touching, true Australian story using a colourful family dynamic and the healing powers of an unlikely animal friend.
The Bloom family have an incredible tale to tell. One of fate, of tragedy, of real, tangible love. The perfect story to witness on the silver screen.
Andrew Lincoln and Naomi Watts have excellent chemistry as Cameron and Sam Bloom respectively. Their relationship has been fractured and shifted by Sam's accident and it shows here. It's sometimes uncomfortable to watch them communicate, as we bear witness to the mental and physical anguish Sam experiences, and the effects that has on her day-to-day communication.
The landscape of Sydney's Northern Beaches is a character of its own in 'Penguin Bloom', stunning, panning shots of the shoreline taking the film to new heights. The house used is also the Bloom's actual home, adding realism in the form of naturally-accumulated clutter and removing any possibility of it feeling like a 'set'.
If you know the story, you should expect a pretty grim and emotional hour and a half. But it's not all cloudy skies – Penguin the magpie comes along just in time, and begins to make everything better with her adorable tapping feet along the Bloom's floor and ability to sense unrest in the household. That's what is so beautiful about this story, too – the unbelievable connection Sam and Penguin share in their pain. Penguin with wings she is unable to fly with, and Sam with legs she is unable to walk with.
This bond, along with the added incentive for Sam to nurse Penguin back to health, is simply gorgeous to watch. Initial annoyance and apprehension from Sam blossoms into real love before our eyes, as we watch Sam not only find a new purpose, but also realise she's worth more than what she thought of herself after her accident.
Beautiful, sweeping scores by Marcelo Zarvos help to communicate the emotions felt by the family members, from the dark and eerie moments leading to the accident, to the times the family comes together to embrace and celebrate each other.
Griffin Murray-Johnston, Felix Cameron and Abe Clifford-Barr are excellent as children Noah, Rueben and Oli Bloom respectively, while Jacki Weaver as Sam's mother Jan and Rachel House as kayaking instructor Gaye (especially the latter) are much-needed contributions to the wider storyline.
Bring some tissues. While it has its optimistic points, 'Penguin Bloom' features moments of hopelessness that are heavy, emotional and real, within a family forever changed in a split second.